The candidates have had their say; now it’s your turn

If you think that people don’t care about this nation, this state, this county, your city, township and school, you may not have been paying attention.

The presidential election has dominated, and it appears that whether we choose Barack Obama or Mitt Romney on Tuesday will make a clear difference in world history.

What is sometimes forgotten, however, is that other offices can have a more direct impact on you.

At the federal level, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Republican challenger Kurt Bills as well as 8th District Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack and his DFL challenger Rick Nolan have sharply different visions for America. The president gets most of the attention, but the real power nationally lies in the Congress, where all laws are passed.

It’s the same with state government. Because of redistricting, all legislative seats are up for election this fall, both the House and Senate. Again, the parties have distinct differences, so your decisions should be relatively easy. But remember, it takes legislative action, not a decree by the governor, to change state law.

At the local level, in races for county board, city councils, township and school boards, we don’t have party designation, so the personal character, personality and reputation of individual candidates  play a greater role. In some smaller communities, the winner will be chosen by write-in votes. In others, the candidates don’t have great differences. This year, one exception to that is the Little Falls City Council races. But at least at the local level, it is relatively easy to meet or phone the candidates if you are having trouble making your decision.

Also on the ballot this year are two controversial constitutional amendments, one defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman and the other requiring a government-issued ID in order to vote. Everybody seems to have an opinion on those, but in Minnesota the only way either will be approved is if a majority of voters vote “Yes.”  If you vote, but don’t mark your ballot on the amendments, your non-vote will be counted as a “No” vote.

Royalton and Sauk Rapids-Rice schools have special levies on the ballot, and we will also be voting on judges and other offices.

Hopefully, you have taken the opportunity to educate yourself. The best government is self-government, and Tuesday is your chance to have a say. Be grateful for the chance.